One Action 2016: Arts + Immigration Project is an arts-based, countywide project that fosters conversation on both historic and contemporary issues of immigration. The project is a collaboration among cultural arts, immigrant serving and educational organizations and runs from January to November 2016.
Each participating organization is drawing on its individual expertise to develop exhibitions, performances, presentations, music, films, displays and readings designed to raise the level of community knowledge, awareness and engagement on this important topic.
To use the arts to catalyze, engage and inform county residents on both the historic and contemporary issues of immigration in order to foster greater understanding and make this a more welcoming and inclusive community.
Toward this end, the project:
• Create cross-discipline arts collaborations on immigration themes
• Use the knowledge of immigrant organizations to inform project content
• Develop a broad range of arts experiences designed to educate and engage the public in conversations on immigration
• Celebrate the cultural capital of all our immigrant communities
A Countywide Steering Committee composed of representatives from participating cities manages the overall organization of the project. This committee includes leaders in the cultural arts, immigrant rights and education sectors.
Community Action Committees are composed of representatives of each of the three sectors (arts, immigration and education) and formed within each participating community (Boulder, Lafayette, Longmont and Louisville) have generated program content and performed outreach in their communities.
A small Project Staff supports the work of the Countywide Steering Committee and each of the Community Action Committee. Every effort is made to coordinate project activity to maximize participation by a broad public. Staff has been charged with generating project-wide publicity materials, creating a website and seeking funds to support participating organizations in their outreach to targeted audiences.
The United States is deeply rooted in immigration history. In fact, almost the entire population, beyond those who are Native American or were brought here during the slave trade, have an immigrant past. Yet many citizens don’t know much about our history, which is really their history, or about current immigration policy. Boulder County is an ideal place to begin this unique American conversation because it has a reputation for engaging openly in dialogue on both national and international issues. For example, the city of Boulder recently received national press for appointing the first undocumented person to a city commission. Still, according to the Trends Report published by The Community Foundation, only 43% of people surveyed said Boulder County is open to immigrants. How much stronger would our county be if the immigrant population, and the cultural assets it brings, were woven deeply into the fabric?
The arts tell the story of human experience and create empathy, engaging participants in conversations they might not otherwise have. Through this project, cultural arts organizations, in collaboration with immigrant and educational groups, will create arts experiences to bridge the disconnection and the discomfort that conversations on immigration often raise. These conversations, in turn, will become a catalyst for understanding and foster a more inclusive community.
Participating organizations will build relationships among themselves and with new audiences across the county. A greater appreciation of immigration history by all residents will eliminate some of the cultural barriers that currently exist, and diverse audiences will come together to share common history and experience.
The One Action 2012 Project focused on Chief Niwot, a leader of the Southern Arapaho people, and his role in attempting to maintain peace as the Anglos moved into what is now Colorado. More than 50 organizations and 18,000 people participated in this project. Click here to see the short trailer on this project.
The One Action 2016: Arts + Immigration Project could potentially serve as a model to inspire other communities beyond our own to use the arts as a way into the immigrant conversation – so much a part of the national fabric in this moment.